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Local camps close because of coronavirus concerns

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Three popular Bellmore-Merrick area summer camps — Merrick Woods Day Camp in Merrick, and Coleman Country Day Camp and Twin Oaks Day Camp, both in Freeport — have closed for the summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“A summer without Merrick Woods is not something we anticipated when this started back in March, or quite honestly ever,” wrote owners Adam and Amy Langbart in a letter posted on the camp’s website. “Based on what we know now — and more importantly, what we don’t — we feel it is the only logical decision to make. It is painful, because [we] know how devastated our campers and counselors will be, but it is the right thing to do.”

Merrick resident Andrea Buzermanis’s daughter, Valentina, 4, has attended Twin Oaks since she was 2. “All year [she asks] when will it be time for camp, and to have to tell her camp will not be happening is devastating,” Buzermanis wrote in an email to the Herald Life. “Twin Oaks has made the right decision, as they always put health and safety first.”

“It certainly won’t be the same, but we will keep the Twin Oaks spirit alive in the Hernandez household,” said Tricia Hernandez, of Bellmore.

The announcement of Coleman’s closure came from owners Ross and Kelli Coleman on May 21 in a video posted on social media.

“We’ve wanted nothing more than for camp to happen this summer — to reunite with our Coleman family here on the ranch,” Kelli said. “We miss you, and we love you.”

“It’s that love that drives this painful decision not to open camp,” Ross said. “We’ve done everything to figure out a way to safely reunite with each of you. So, with all the emotion in the world, we start the countdown to summer 2021.”

“We can’t wait to see all of the memories we’re going to make together in the future,” Ross added. “You best believe we’re coming back next year better than ever.”

After the announcement, reactions from parents and campers alike flooded social media, many reflecting on their memories of the camp. 

“It’s sad to say, but I know it was the right decision to close camp this summer,” wrote Dylan Kratenstein, 14, of Bellmore. “Coleman is like a second home to me with my second family. This would have been my 11th summer there, as well as my first year as a counselor-in-training.”

“It makes me sad that my summer is not going to look the same as it has my whole life, but my summer is to be determined,” she added. “It certainly won’t be as fun, adventurous, memorable or amazing as usual, but let the countdown to summer 2021 begin!”

“I am really proud of Ross and the rest of the Coleman family for making an extremely difficult decision, but as far as I am concerned, there is no question it is the right one,” wrote Raquel Bodner, of Merrick. This year would have been the seventh for her daughter, Ella, 10, and the fifth for her son, Zachary, 8.

“It has always been clear to me how much Ross and his parents [George and Marla Coleman] truly care about the families at their camp,” she added.

“Although we are all very heartbroken and shocked that camp is closed, my family has the utmost respect for the Coleman family,” wrote Merrick resident Rosalia Melaccio, whose son and daughter have spent the last three summers at Coleman. “To put the safety and care of the children before the money in their pockets shows you how they genuinely love all the children of their camp.”